Ghaziabad may be emerging as the NCR’s ‘wild east’ with motorists pulling the trigger at the slightest provocation. One would expect this would inspire authorities to clamp down on the gun culture. Instead, they are issuing gun licences to increasing number of women who are equally keen to get their own gun.
The applicants include young students, businesswomen, professionals and even homemakers. Their ostensible reason for procuring a firearm is that they fear for their safety and do not think the law enforcing authorities can provide adequate protection.
“I am concerned about my safety as I have to travel late at night. I am applying for a gun licence and hope to get it soon. We cannot rely on the police as incidents of chain-snatching, road-rage and murders are being reported daily,” Sakshi Kumar, an MNC executive said.
As per the city magistrate’s official records, 10 per cent of the arms licences are held by women. “Of 20,000 arms licences issued in Ghaziabad, about 10 per cent have been issued to women. Number of women applying has also increased. Over 95 per cent visitors to my office, including women, want an arms licence,” said City Magistrate Umesh Mishr.
But its not just the women venturing out who want a gun, even homemakers who stay at home alone are now feeling the need for guns.
“No one in my family had ever felt the need for an arms licence. But the increasing cases of robberies during the day have prompted us to think of getting a gun. I had discussed this with my husband who goes to Delhi for his job every day. I am alone at home with my children. What will happen if robbers break in?,” said Preeti Sinha, a housewife from Kavi Nagar area.
The district administration denied any substantial increase in the crime rate prompting this sudden gun craze among women. “I do not relate women procuring arms licences to the crime rate. There are other aspects, too,” said District Magistrate Mrityunjaya Narayan.
Gauri Jamneja, a businesswoman, said carrying a gun gave freedom. “We can retaliate if something untoward happens,” she said.
The district also does not have any training facility for licence holders. “A proposal was underway to build a range near Pilkhuwa, but the landowners demanded over Rs 2 crore for the land,” Mishr told HT.